Tuesday , May , 22 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Give LeBron a break

(Sports Network) – Can LeBron James catch a break? He makes a great pass to a
wide open Donyell Marshall, who misses the possible game-winning three in the
opener of the Eastern Conference finals.

Who gets the blame? Of course it’s James, who finished with 10 points, 10
rebounds and nine assists in Cleveland’s 79-76 loss to Detroit at The Palace
of Auburn Hills. If the veteran Marshall knocks down the open three from the
corner, James finishes with a triple-double and is a hero.

Instead, the so-called experts are wondering out loud why he didn’t take a
shot from inside the lane, which could have tied the contest if it had gone

James did the right thing. As soon as he moved toward the hoop, Rasheed
Wallace went to double James, who found Marshall alone in the corner. The
Cavaliers are on the road and are going for the win. The 6-8 James can’t beat
Detroit by himself. He needs his teammates to step up.

And that is what James was asking for. He showed trust and confidence in his
teammate. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, who have returned to the East
finals for the first time since 1992, it didn’t work out this time.

“You know, I have not gone back and watched the tape yet, but you know,
looking back on the game, it looked like everybody had collapsed because there
was nobody near Donyell,” said Cleveland head coach Mike Brown about LeBron’s
decision to make the pass to Marshall. “I mean, he could have sat and had a
cup of coffee before he even shot the basketball. LeBron trusts his teammates,
his teammates trust him, and if he’s put in that situation, you’ve just got to
step up and knock the shot down.”

The 22-year-old James is playing in his second NBA postseason and first
conference finals. He played 45-plus minutes and was only 5-for-15 from the
floor. James did collect four steals and committed just two turnovers.

“They (the Pistons) played great,” said James. “I mean, their defensive
mindset is very good. But for me, I just take what’s there. You know, if you
get a good look at it, you go for it. If not you kick it to a teammate. Simple
as that.”

There is no doubt that Detroit clamped down on James, and played tough team
defense every time he touched the ball. James showed maturity, by involving
his teammates and trying to get the open looks at the hoop. The All-Star
forward knew it wasn’t his night to put up big numbers in the scoring column
of the stat sheet, and instead he attempted to put his teammates in a better
position to contribute.

That is what great players do. When something isn’t working, they find another
way to help their team succeed. James did that, but this time Marshall didn’t
come through. Next time, there may be a different ending.

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player ever to lace up a pair of
sneakers, didn’t win in his first trip to the Eastern Conference finals. In
fact, the third time was the charm for Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, who lost
twice to Detroit (1989, 1990) before earning a berth in the NBA Finals and
winning their first of six titles in 1991 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

James will eventually get Cleveland over the hump. This just won’t be the
year. Give the guy a break, he his still learning what it takes to win the big

By the way, isn’t he only 22?